… ‘waste crime’ – or so saith the Environment Agency.
“The offences, sometimes involving organised crime gangs, range from illegal dumping of household and industrial waste to massive frauds involving recycling fees and landfill tax”
And, actually, I buy this to some extent, allowing for the hyperbole this new chap at the top is using to get his headlines. (People-smuggling, of course, is the real new global crimewave, but let that pass.) And whatever troubles the EA reckon they confront here, you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find countries where it’s all a hundred times worse.
Smart legislation and enforcement is critical. Many of the folks around here who particpated in our heated ‘plastic-bag’ thread are likely to disagree with me on this, but I am unrepentant. There is so much scope for greater efficiency by reducing waste, it’s one of the great sources of potential future growth that makes Malthusian predictions wrong. If we extend the waste-reckoning to my own patch, energy, there is vast untapped potential for efficiencies in that sphere. That can be viewed – properly, IMHO – as genuine market failure in many cases, where the potential investor in a self-financing efficiency scheme can’t raise the capital or, as is notorious in the social housing sector, where the potential beneficiary (the energy bill-payer) isn’t the party able to do the work.
But when it works, it’s game-changing. The introduction of steam-pumping in the Cornish mines reduced operating costs by 90% (sic) – which is how the world moves forward. Mercifully, in many circumstances the potent combination of technology, capitalism and self-interest do the necessary unaided.
Not everything yields to legislation: we read that half the food purchased in the USA goes uneaten which, even allowing for some inevitable trimmings-waste, is pretty grotesque – given how much they do actually eat. But that one’s a deep societal malaise.
Then we get other ‘capitalist’ stories like the ‘landscaping’ of golf courses with landfill: hard to know whether to laugh or cry. Dumb legislation and non-enforcement are counter-productive in the extreme, and there’s no shortage of that.
As part of the overall mix in this complicated stew, I note that the Kidz are all supposed these days to be vehement on the subject of Their Future and how we are all messing the world up for them. But the schoolchildren I see are considerably more prone to discard half-consumed fast-food - in quantity, and randomly across the pavement – than I ever recall. Ditto their consumerist attitudes to outmoded clothing, electrics etc etc.
Yeah, showing my age there, I know … but the point remains. Decades of worthy green banging-on have had an impact of sorts, but hardly a wholesale change of attitudes across the population as a whole. Some things need to be forced along a bit.